Report problems with smoke and bonfires and find out what you need to know if you are planning a bonfire.
If your neighbours are lighting bonfires which are causing you nuisance, in the first instance, approach your neighbours and politely tell them how the bonfire is affecting you. Often, people are unaware of the way smoke is blowing and consequently, the effect it is having on you.
If after discussing the matter, the neighbour continues to light bonfires which you feel cause you nuisance, you can report the nuisance using the form on this page.
If you have considered the alternatives and a bonfire is still the best practical option for disposing of your garden waste, you should ensure you have taken the following precautions:
Bonfires are only illegal if they cause a nuisance to others. It is commonly thought that there are byelaws banning bonfires or restricting the days or times when they are allowed - there aren't.
Environmental Protection Act 1990 can be used to deal with people who act unreasonably and cause a statutory nuisance to neighbours. To be considered a statutory nuisance, a bonfire would usually have to be a persistent problem. If someone does cause a repeated nuisance this may lead to enforcement action, and ultimately legal proceedings could be taken and the person fined up to £5,000.
If we feel the bonfire is an isolated occurrence or insufficient evidence is gathered to substantiate service of a notice, and you are not happy with this, then you may take legal action yourself under Section 82 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. However, you must be able to prove your case in court and therefore may wish to employ a solicitor.
It is an offence to bring waste from another site and burn it, for example tradesmen bringing waste home and burning it. Whether or not they are causing a statutory nuisance, they are committing an offence.
If the bonfire takes place on trade or industrial premises then there is an additional power given by the Clean Air Act 1993 where the bonfire is giving off dark or black smoke.
If the smoke from a bonfire poses a hazard to road users the police have powers to deal with it and you should report the incident to them.